In 2006, I bared all for PETA's 'I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur' campaign. I'm proud to have been part of the now-iconic ad series – and as a long-time animal defender, I take great delight in reflecting on how far the anti-fur movement has come.
When PETA released the first ad in the series in the early '90s, featuring The Go-Go's, fur wasn't an issue yet – it was a status symbol. And in some ways, that's understandable. Few people had ever seen a video or even a photograph of the horrors endured by animals killed for their fur. Back then, people could drape themselves in mink or chinchilla fur and claim ignorance – but today, that's unthinkable.
By now, almost all of us have seen how animals on fur farms are treated. They spend their entire lives confined to tiny wire cages, often exposed to all kinds of extreme weather, and are denied the opportunity to roam, play, and care for their young, causing many to go insane. Their short, miserable lives end in a terrifying death – fur farmers electrocute them, break their necks, drown them, or kill them in some other gut-wrenching way. Animals who are trapped in the wild fare little better. They're caught in steel-jaw traps – yes, those still exist, and they're as horrible as you'd imagine – and they're left to languish, sometimes for days, before succumbing to thirst, attacks by predators, or being bludgeoned to death by returning trappers. Mother coyotes have even been known to chew through their own limbs in a desperate attempt to get back to their cubs.
All this violence is senseless. Why treat coyotes, foxes, and minks differently from the animals we share our homes and lives with? When it comes to the really important things – such as being able to feel pain, yearning to care for their babies, and not wanting to die – they're all the same. That's why I could never justify wearing any animal's fur.
Fortunately, thanks in large part to work by groups like PETA, being fur-free is a badge of honour today. Young British designers such as Molly Goddard, Hannah Weiland, and Faustine Steinmetz are leading the way by reminding fashion students that "you can be daring as well as innovative and rule the runways without harming animals." Other big names such as Gucci and YOOX NET-A-PORTER have committed to not selling fur – and where they lead, others will follow.
Of course, you don't have to get naked to assert your cruelty-free credentials – tons of beautiful, cosy, and colourful faux-fur options for which no animal has suffered are available from brands such as Shrimps and Stella McCartney.
There are no hard-and-fast rules in fashion – the way I see it, you should take chances and make some mistakes. But wearing fur is one mistake you should never make. So this Fur-Free Friday, I'm saying it loud and proud: I wouldn't be caught dead in real fur. Please, join me.